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The U.S. Congress has routinely reauthorized funding for surface transportation to repair and improve critical roads and bridges throughout the country and is scheduled to do so again within the next few months. Now, with a renewed charge to protect our most vulnerable communities so embattled by systemic racism, and a prolonged health crisis resulting in a fragile economy, lawmakers are looking for innovative ways that at-first-glance-unrelated business (including road-paving) might also be an opportunity to positively impact the nation’s most pressing current needs. This proposed approach properly recognizes that legislation on physical infrastructure impacts our social infrastructure and should be tailored to improve both.

With the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (the FAST Act) and its associated federal funding commitments for current transportation construction programs set to expire in September, a bill titled “Investing in a New Vision for the Environment and Surface Transportation in America” (the INVEST in America Act) has been introduced to the U.S. House of Representatives. The law proposes not only to repair and replace failing infrastructure—like less-comprehensive prior surface transportation reauthorizations—but also to promote smarter, safer, and more resilient infrastructure investments, creating jobs, and boosting the economy. Most significantly, various programs offered in the proposed legislation provide thoughtful ways to connect communities and neighborhoods.

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